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Jon Heavey Headshot

Follow the Money

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Money is not complicated.

Neither is war.

The combination of the two is even simpler still.

Bloomberg News invested a small fortune to win a Freedom of Information Act battle that went all the way through the Supreme Court of the United States. Spearheaded by the late Mark Pittman, the inquiry unearthed $669 billion in secret loans that were part of a $1.2 trillion welfare handout to Wall Street.

This money is over and above the TARP equity handouts, or the current currency exchanges being used as back door payments to Europe. These sums are straight cash handed out for free, and "paid back" with little to no interest. The grand total of interest paid back to the taxpayer was a notional $13.2 billion. The equivalent interest payback for a $250,000 mortgage would be $2,750 in total. Good luck getting those terms for your checkbook.

Senior executives and policy leaders have repeated the same tired excuse time and again, "We had to do this, it was the only responsible thing to do." Keep that in mind, and you will see it for what it is: self-serving bullshit.

Rather than mix-in confusing business jargon, you should know quite simply that bankruptcy for a bank has nothing to do with your deposits. Let me say this again. If your bank fails as a business, it has absolutely no impact on your deposits. This is counter-intuitive, and banksters are exploiting this basic fear to justify their personal gains.

A bank works like any other business, completely separate from the funds you hold in your account. Your deposits have first priority "supra-senior" in the event of a bankruptcy, where Chapter 11 and recapitalization rules have been in place for generations. In fact, it is those rules that banksters were desperately trying to avoid by demanding a welfare handout. If taxpayers had been rightfully empowered as the "debtor in possession" financier in control of the banks, senior executives would have lost their personal fortunes.

This brings me to the subject of war and its beautiful shining glory. In business schools around the world they teach the concept of capital flows in finance. Like the physics of electricity, capital will flow to where its returns are maximized, irrespective of the consequences to society writ large. Put another way, the unchecked flow of capital means that man will eat his own to fill his belly first.

War is a perfect example of unrestrained capital flow. For 10 years we have been told the same lies about war that we have been told about finance. "We have to do it, it is the only responsible thing to do". Self-serving bullshit, take two. One need look no further than campaign coffers on both sides of the aisle to understand why our representatives are eager to send other people's children off to war.

It doesn't have to be this way. True leaders eat last, not before their own people. As Plato once put it:

He who is to be a noble Guardian of the State will require to unite in himself philosophy and spirit and swiftness and strength... All that belongs to them, should be such as will neither impair their virtue as Guardians, nor tempt them to prey upon the other citizens.

But should they ever acquire moneys of their own, they will become enemies and tyrants instead of allies of the other citizens... Therefore, we must enquire who are the best Guardians of their own conviction. (Plato, The Republic, II-IV, 135)

Old men profit from war, and young men die in war. Old men manipulate balance sheets, while young men are bankrupted. This is not new, but it can be changed. It can be changed by principled leadership. It can be changed by leaders who guard their own convictions and place the needs of their citizens first.

I've seen such leaders. Several of them died before me at far too young of an age. The temptation of profit held no power over their indomitable souls. They were not motivated by money -- they were inspired by their beliefs. Those who are serving their own needs in Washington and on Wall Street would be well advised to heed fair warning. A new generation of guardians has emerged, and we know what it means to fight for convictions that made our nation great.

Jon Heavey served as an infantry battalion surgeon for the 101st Airborne in Iraq. He was based at Walter Reed Army Medical Center where he cared for wounded warriors for five years. He recently authored the book The Guardian Class.